Martha Bohm

Assistant Professor - Department of Architecture
marthabo@buffalo.edu - 319 Hayes Hall - (716) 829-5214

Assistant Professor - Department of Architecture

Marth Bohm participating in a group workshop.

Marth Bohm (left) explores the intersection of efficiency and ecological integrity with design excellence through her teaching and research.

Martha Bohm examines the intersection of design with energy efficiency, healthy materials and ecological sensibility through research, teaching and critical practice. 

An environmental policy analyst-turned-architect with a background in the physical sciences, Bohm brings to her teaching and research empirical rigor and a deep-seated conviction that architecture must step up to address the global climate crisis.

Bohm is passionate about teaching and says she gets a thrill every time something "clicks" for her students. Keen on the "nerdy" side of architecture, her goal is to inspire students about topics that may seem uninteresting on the surface. “My goal is to get them excited, give them the tools, and they’ll learn themselves.”

With an admiration for the school’s “scrappy” attitude and resourceful ethic, Bohm encourages her students to think creatively with less. “As a designer, to be given a pile of found objects and recycled materials, and then make something beautiful, is much harder and builds a different skill set. It’s like spinning straw into gold.” This learning-through-making approach often draws Bohm and her students deep into Buffalo with projects like a set of seed huts for community gardens across Western New York, and the GRoW Home, a solar-powered home that students designed and built, ultimately placing second in the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. As co-director of the Sustainable Futures summer study abroad program in the rain forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica, she has helped students design and build projects inspired by local materials and community input.

Bohm’s initial interest in sustainability began in seventh grade, when she wrote a letter to her senator arguing for a recycling program for her community. She would go on to earn her bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. She spent the first years of her career as a Ginsberg Research Fellow and policy analyst for the U.S. Green Building Council, where she authored the USGBC Research Committee’s National Green Building Research Agenda. Seeking hands-on engagement with the issue, Bohm entered the 3.5-year Master of Architecture at the University of Oregon, where she was director of the Ecological Design Center and co-founder of Design-Bridge, a community-oriented student design-build program.

Bohm currently teaches core design studios and environmental systems at the undergraduate level. As a member of the Ecological Practices Graduate Research Group, Bohm also directs research studios and graduate-level seminars. 

You can have a super-efficient building that can be quite banal and boring, and you can have one that’s very connected to the outside that’s a total resource hog. I look for the intersection, the Venn diagram where those two things overlap.

 - Martha Bohm 

Recent news

6/12/19
An exhibition that will travel across the country over the next two years to reveal the little-known history of architects as activists for social justice has landed in Buffalo.
1/25/19
One architecture student’s efforts to find a community use for his class project has helped establish a class-wide venture that will place 10 student-built works in urban gardens across Buffalo.
10/15/18

A five-year effort involving the work of more than 400 students, UB's nationally award-winning GRoW Home is open on the South Campus as a clean-energy resource center for the university and surrounding community. 

4/14/17

UB’s Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE) has announced the winning research teams from its inaugural Ideas Lab workshop — “Seeding Food Equity for Global Health” (FEIL) — which was held in late January.

Courses

6/26/18
This studio initiates an inquiry at the intersection of industrial activity and ecological practice; it seeks to borrow from the systemic organizations of ecological systems to organize and construct industrial places. Both require understanding of how resources flow between and among many participants as part of a complex, interdependent system.  
6/26/18
Environmental Systems 2 (previously titled Environmental Controls 1) deals with the thermal and environmental processes that affect buildings, and gives design students the means to respond to and manipulate the thermal environment. 
6/26/18
This course maps the terrain of ecological practices through examination of ten canonical project + text pairs.  The collection of ten buildings circumscribe a wide landscape of practices defined by differing agendas, logics, locations, and times.  The close examination allows one to better situate each in its technological and critical context, and gain insight into how such practices emerged.
6/26/18
Creative and critical thinking in architecture occurs through both visual representation (drawings, models, etc.) and full-scale construction. 
6/26/18
Environmental Systems 2 deals with the thermal and environmental processes that affect buildings, and gives design students the means to respond to and manipulate the thermal environment. Building science and design principles will be presented against a backdrop of sustainability: buildings consume 40% of the energy used in the US each year, mainly through heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting. Integration of appropriate environmental technology suggests ways that this energetic appetite might be reduced. 

Education

  • University of Oregon, Master of Architecture
  • Harvard University, BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Selected activities, honors and awards

  • AIA Western New York Chapter Design Award for GRoW Home, 2016.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition, Irvine, California, 2015.
        - 2nd Place overall (941.191/1000 points possible)
        - 1st Place in the Comfort Zone, Commuting, and Energy Balance contests

Research

As climate changes progresses, Bohm continues to educate the population and create opportunities for action; she regularly partners her studios with local firms and involves the practitioner community in her research. 

There's an urgency to the work, according to Bohm: “As a profession, we are sheltered because we’re in a country that is pretending there’s no climate change, and that everything is fine while the rest of the world is either underwater or changing the way they do things.”

While at work globally, Bohm sees Buffalo as a city of opportunity for issues of sustainability - and prime testing ground for young architects and designers eager to make a difference. "Buffalo has a lot of potential. To be living here right now, to be an architect here right now, especially a young architect, is pretty exciting.”

Featured Work

3/4/19
Assistant professor of architecture Martha Bohm reports the design process and measured performance of the University at Buffalo's net-zero energy prototype, the GRoW home.
3/4/19
Assistant professor of architecture Martha Bohm studies potential benefits of Urban Agriculture (UB), specifically food production in cities for residents lacking good access to fresh, healthy foods. 
3/4/19

So Ra Baek Martha Bohm join UB mathematics associate professor John Ringland in developing tools to characterize food cultivation practices along roadside transects as a potential complement to traditional remote sensing approaches.

1/28/19
Assistant professor of architecture Martha Bohm, MArch graduate Gabrielle Printz & associate professor of architecture Joyce Hwang examine the shifting landscape of patronage within the field of architecture.